The long-delayed cross-border railway connection between Iraq and neighboring Iran will finally begin operating. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani will visit the southern province of Basra where he will lay the cornerstone for the 36 kilometer railway project, according to a report from the Shafaq News Agency today.
Three million passengers can be transported annually on the rail that will connect the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh with Basra in Iraq. After being in the works for many years, an agreement was finally made between the two nations in 2021, allowing for the start of construction. Prior to that, initiatives were put on hold in 2014, the same year that Daesh began to spread throughout portions of northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
After numerous setbacks and delays, efforts were restarted in April when Tehran and Baghdad agreed to build the railway link during a meeting in the Iranian capital between the Iranian Minister of Roads and Housing Mehrdad Bazarbash and the Iraqi Minister of Transport Razzaq Mohibis Al-Saadawi.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways’ (IRIR)) chief of public relations, Jalal Mokhtari, was quoted by Amwaj Media in June as saying that building “a movable bridge for trains and ships to pass through the Arvand [River]” is particularly challenging.
Due to obstacles caused by the persisting dangers of land mines laid during the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq had not yet begun building tracks on their side of the border. According to a comment from Mokhtari, “We are waiting for the demining operation and the construction of the railway track on the Iraqi side.”
Along with economic problems, arguments over who will do the building have also contributed to delays.